Maryland is only one win away from bowl eligibility
Perry Hills was the quarterback he needed to be. Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison ran exceptionally well. Levern Jacobs and D.J. Moore found ways to get open.
When you read that, you’d think that Maryland had its best offensive output of the season. The same team that scored 50 points against Purdue in the B1G opener came back and was scoring at will. That wasn’t the case in Saturday’s 28-17 win over Michigan State, but a solid performance has the Terrapins within one game of bowl eligibility.
Raise your hand if you thought that would be the case for D.J. Durkin in his first season in College Park.
This may have been one of Maryland’s top overall performances of the season. It had a balanced offensive attack and the defense bent but rarely broke. In the fourth quarter, down 17-21, Maryland pitched a shutout inning, outscoring the Spartans 14-0 in the final 15 minutes. It overcame an ugly three quarters to get its fifth win of the season.
Maryland looked like a quality bowl team.
It wasn’t necessarily a must-win situation for the Terrapins, but with the number of winnable games remaining on the schedule shrinking, this was a pretty important one to have. And against a desperate Michigan State team, this wasn’t going to be an easy game to win. And when the Spartans brought the punch and went ahead in third quarter, the Terps held their ground.
The big play didn’t kill Maryland. L.J. Scott did run it in from 48 yards out in the first half, but it didn’t happen repeatedly. In the previous two weeks, Penn State and Minnesota were able to cash in on big run or long pass plays. That wasn’t much of an issue against Michigan State.
Offensively, the Terps had weapons in every area. No, maybe they didn’t rack up 600 yards or put up half-a-hundred, but a productive night nonetheless.
Hills completed 21-of-27 passes for 200 yards and a pair of touchdown tosses. Once again, he ended the game without throwing an interception.
The running backs were big weapons, too. Ty Johnson carried for 115 yards with a 12.5 average per carry. Harrison added 105 yards for the evening. Maryland didn’t exactly dice up the Spartan defense, but it sliced through it pretty well.
Because of Michigan State’s fall, this wasn’t the signature win it could’ve been. Durkin and company are still searching for one of those. But Maryland took another step in the right direction. Step by step, the program is heading in the right direction.
After seven games, Maryland is on the cusp of a postseason berth.
The Terps still have Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska remaining on the schedule. Those are going to be tough tests, for sure. But Indiana and Rutgers are still ahead, too, and Maryland certainly is more than capable of winning at least one of those.
Durkin has already surpasses expectations in College Park. There aren’t many people who would’ve pegged Maryland to be this far along or performing this well so early in his tenure.
Now he just needs one more win to double last year’s win total and have the Terps bowl eligible.